Five Green Drinks for Summer

(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)

Five Green Drinks for Summer

By Jacqueline Napoli

They’re everywhere and it looks like they’re here to stay. What might once have been mistaken for a scoop of pond water now competes for cup holder space with SmartWaters and caramel Frappucinos. Maybe you’re ready to give green drinks a try, or perhaps you already love them and want to switch it up a little. Wherever you’re at, they’re awesome, they make you feel amazing, and there’s a green drink for everyone – even the veggie-resistant.

But why should we drink our leafy greens? We know greens prevent cancer, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, vision problems, and obesity. Greens provide more vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and amino acids than just about any other food. But the advantage of drinking them is that you get a hefty and easily-utilized helping of concentrated superfood nutrition in every portion. And it’s a portable, quick, tasty delivery system that can become a vital daily habit in no time.

What Should You Choose: Juicing, Blending, or Powders?

Really, it comes down to personal preference. With juicing, you deliver the goodness of pounds of produce into your bloodstream quickly, bypassing most of the digestion process. Countless people have mastered health and fitness with juicing and exercise alone. It’s a worthy contender. The down side: too much juicing of fruits, and starchy veggies like carrots and beets, can spike blood sugar and drain the adrenals and pancreas. The process also removes insoluble fiber and the important phytonutrients bound to it. Plus, juicing is slow and messy. But . . . juicing still has its place.

Green powders are a great option. They pack in a wide variety of greens, fruits, and veggies. They increase any drink’s nutritional quality instantly. And if you’re out of fresh produce, they can save the day. Be sure to use certified-organic, unheated brands to avoid toxins or voided benefits. Just mix into juice or smoothies and you’re on your way.

But the overall winner has to be green smoothies. They are quick, basic, and they retain the complete fiber and polyphenol-phytonutrient profile of the whole plant. Then, the blending breaks down the tough plant cell walls and renders the nutrients easily available to the body. It’s a winning combination.

Note on Blenders

Costly blenders like Blendtec and Vitamix ($319-$559) completely pulverize the greens, but the Nutribullet and the Ninja do a pretty good job breaking them down for under $120. Weaker machines can leave little bits unblended.

Recipes:

Basic Green Smoothie

Spinach is a great starter green because its flavor is barely noticeable.

1 frozen banana, broken into chunks

1 cup strawberries

1 cup spinach

1-2 cups water

Pulse on low speed for 15 seconds, then blend on high speed until smooth. Start with one cup water and add more if a thinner consistency is desired.

Detox and Skin Brightener

Cilantro removes toxins and heavy metals, mango’s antioxidants and polyphenols make the skin radiant, and ginger fights inflammation.

1 cup frozen mango

1 orange, peeled

½ inch slice of ginger

1 small bunch cilantro

1-2 cups water

Pulse on low until mixed, then on high speed until smooth.

Summer Refresher

Easy, refreshing, plus a wow factor. It doesn’t require a strong blender. Try growing a mint plant: they’re hard to kill and come in handy for drinks.

4 cups well-chilled watermelon chunks

¼- ½ cup loose mint leaves

Blend until mostly smooth, leaving little bits of mint and watermelon.

Energy Drink

This healthy option can be made in a shaker or reusable plastic bottle. Chia seeds are filling and add omega-3’s, protein, and fiber.

½ scoop green powder

1 Starbucks Refresher packet, any flavor

1 teaspoon chia seeds

14-18 oz. cold water

Mix ingredients in bottle. Seal and shake vigorously. Let sit five minutes for chia to gelatinize.

Spicy Savory

A strong, satisfying, and incredibly nutritious option. If I have a heavy day ahead, this goes with me every time. Disclaimer: you might need a breath mint.

1 medium English cucumber

1 small avocado

1 stalk celery

1-1/2 lemon

2-3 heads baby bok choy

1 clove garlic, peeled

½ inch ginger root

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon turmeric

½-1 teaspoon salt

1½ – 2 cups water

Pulse on low until mixed, then on high speed until smooth.

Enjoy your day’s healthiest meal!